2012/10/25

Backyard Trash

  The residents of Watari District in Fukushima City had their property showered with radioactive fallout after the explosions at Fukushima Daiichi NPP. If there had been just a few such victims in this disaster, it would have been clear that the nuclear industry, and the government that was ultimately responsible for nuclear safety, would have owed these people large financial settlements for the value of their property, their emotional hardship, their present and future lost income, and the full cost of relocating elsewhere. But there are a million victims at least, and TEPCO and the government barely have the cash to maintain their operations. Fair compensation will never come.
Instead, these residents now have insult added to injury. The contaminated soil that they have cleaned up on their own properties has nowhere to go. They have been told they cannot bury it (for the good reason of not contaminating groundwater), and since the government has no plans to remove it, they have to just cover it with vinyl and leave it on their own property. It seems the guilty parties have decided that they can wait a couple decades to see this problem resolve itself at no cost to themselves. They can just wait until these residents die or leave at their own expense.

A photo from The Mainichi showing radioactive soil
that residents have to store on their own
properties.

One might think that these affected residents need to stop being so meek and organize a proper American-style class action lawsuit. After all, there have been a lot of victories in American courts with big law firms working on contingency and gaining million and billion dollar settlements. Films like Erin Brokovich and The Insider show how this was done, but there is a big difference in the case of Japan’s nuclear catastrophe. Legal victories in America have been won against large corporations that had the means to settle and get back to business. The Erin Brokovich story tells of the suit against Pacific Gas and Electric Company over hexavalent chromium contamination. They settled for $333 million and carried on with their business. The story told by The Insider concluded with all fifty state governments suing Big Tobacco for medical costs. They won $249 billion, then the tobacco industry, realizing its heyday in the West was over, just moved and got busy making money in the emerging Asian market for nicotine.
These cases illustrated that it was possible to sue wealthy corporations, especially if you had governments on your side, as was the case with lawsuit against the tobacco industry. But even in America, famous for being such a great place for lawyers and litigation, it’s not so easy to sue the government. Lawyers are reluctant to take on cases that challenge national defense and energy policies. The record shows that there has been more success in suing corporations. To get compensation from the government, it has usually been necessary to go through the political process and win such victories as the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. This was achieved in 1990, too late for most victims. It was forty-eight years after workers, soldiers and citizens began to be exposed to radiation in The Manhattan Project, and later in the buildup of nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.
Thus the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe cannot be blamed for their unwillingness to fight. The weakness of the legal system and the power of corporations in Japan are just parts of the problem they are up against. This tragedy shows that it is almost impossible to sue a government for past mistakes in national policy. Nonetheless, there is a movement to force public prosecutors to indict several individuals in TEPCO management for criminal negligence resulting in death and injury. Yet with or without convictions, the record of nuclear accidents shows that no society has the will or the ability to pay the costs of such a nuclear disaster, and this is one of the best arguments for shutting down the nuclear industry before another accident happens. And who really believes, pro-nukes included, that another accident will not happen within a decade or two?

2012/10/24

Srsly?


Did anyone, from nuclear professionals to lay persons, ever really think this was a good way to do radiation decontamination? The power washing just aerosolizes the contaminants, moving them off a surface to contaminate the surroundings, as well as the person doing the work. The contaminants are not collected or isolated from the ecosystem at all. They are just moved from one place to another, where they will be moved again by wind and rain. (Photo from The Mainichi.)

A year ago I wrote a few posts about the decontamination efforts being carried out in Fukushima Prefecture. Like many observers, I concluded that the work was a pathetic waste of money that would come to nothing, a cruel joke giving false hope to the residents who would never get the compensation they deserve to enable them to start life over elsewhere. Yet who could know for sure at that early date? I did have moments of doubt when I thought “who am I, a mere amateur, to pass judgment on these radiation experts and elite-educated officials?” Maybe they know what they are doing.
A year later we can see that they did perhaps indeed know what they were doing, if the plan was to give false hope to the residents and real hope to officials that the residents would just disappear as soon as possible. Otherwise, the evidence shows now that decontamination was an utter failure.
A report in The Mainichi this week tells the story from the perspective of some Fukushima residents who live just outside the exclusion zone. Residents of 470 homes in one town were treated to a thorough decontamination effort paid for by Fukushima Municipal Government. Radiation levels fell significantly, but a year later they are back higher than ever. One spot in a gutter went from 9 to 2 microsieverts per hour before and after decontamination, but presently the same spot is 10.3 microsieverts per hour. 200 kilometers away near my home in Narita, the highest such hot spot in a gutter that I can find is 0.7, which is still well above the pre-2011 level of 0.05 microsieverts per hour.
The report goes on to say:

The Fukushima Municipal Government asked the Ministry of the Environment to conduct the second round of decontamination in spring this year, but there has been no reply so far. An official of the Fukushima Municipal Government said, "Because it is so costly, they may be waiting for the radiation levels to go down naturally without conducting decontamination." Meanwhile, an official of the Ministry of the Environment said, "We can't deny the possibility of soil re-deposition, but we are considering whether it is necessary to carry out decontamination on an individual basis."

Understatement is an important part of life in Japan. Statements are made in such a way that there is an assumption that the interlocutor will infer the intended meaning. In this case, we can assume that “waiting for radiation levels to go down naturally” is a way of saying that the government has abandoned residents and left them to face the future consequences of this poisoning on their own.
This week Greenpeace also released a report on the dismal situation in Fukushima. It highlights more concerns regarding the hapless efforts at decontamination:

1.     Some heavily populated areas exposed to 13 times the legal limit.
2.     Some parks and school facilities in Fukushima city, home to 285,000 people, radiation levels were above three microsieverts per hour (exposing anyone who stayed in such a place to 26 millsieverts per year – well above the 1 ~ 5 considered safe for nuclear industry workers).
3.     Official monitoring posts placed by the government systematically underestimate the radiation levels.
4.     Some machines at official monitoring posts are shielded from radiation by structures around them.
5.     Official monitoring stations are placed in areas the authorities have decontaminated. Thirty meters away levels are much higher.
6.     Decontamination efforts are seriously delayed and many hot spots that were repeatedly identified by Greenpeace are still there.
7.     There are still many hot spots around playground equipment.
8.     Attempts to clean up were misguided.
9.     It is very unlikely that the whole area will be freed of radiation risks within the next few years.
10. Government continues to downplay radiation risks and give false hope to residents of returning home.

2012/10/21

Fame, Infamy, Impunity


Two news stories from The Los Angeles Times of October 4, 1995 tell us much about what we know and remember, what we never knew or what we forget, if we did ever vaguely know. The crimes are similar in that they are both tales of impunity, power, and privilege and money triumphing over victims and over the bureaucracies that were supposed to uphold the law.
The difference is that the news story that we all know is a crime with two victims and a celebrity defendant. (Los Angeles had 1,000 murders in 1992 and 297 in 2011, and many of these cases go unreported, or unsolved, or without convictions.) The other crime had thousands of victims over three decades, and it was perpetrated by doctors and government agencies that were bound to uphold such standards as the Nuremberg Code and the Hippocratic Oath


Two News Items from The Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1995
Front Page News
Back Page News
The ex-football star expresses gratitude and returns to his Brentwood estate where friends and family celebrate. Relatives of the victims react with pain and grim silence to the jurors' decision.
Clinton Apologizes for Radiation Tests, Experiments. Cabinet will study compensation for some victims and their families. About 4,000 secret studies through 1974 were disclosed.




Journalist Eileen Welsome won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting of America’s radiation experiments, and wrote about it further in her 1999 book The Plutonium Files. Toward the end of her account she describes the long struggle to make the Department of Energy acknowledge the crimes of the past and move forward on questions of compensating victims and prosecuting the guilty parties. Hazel O’Leary had been appointed Energy Secretary, and she had been determined since her first days on the job to make the government account fully for its past deeds. But she met resistance at every step. Even the specially appointed advisory committee could not come to any firm conclusions about responsibility and compensation in its final report. It was only because of President Clinton that the government made an apology and offered compensation to a limited number of victims. He decided to bypass the equivocations of the committee and at least firmly state that the experiments had been inexcusable “not only by today’s standards but by the standards of the time in which they were conducted.”
Welsome wrote, “Clinton swept away all the conditions and spontaneously offered an apology to all of the people who had been used in the radiation experiments. The government leaders responsible for the experiments were no longer alive to apologize to the people and communities whose lives were ‘darkened by the shadow of the atom.’” (p. 470) Few of the victims received compensation, and the perpetrators went unpunished because they were deceased, aged, or impossible to convict for other reasons. Nonetheless, it was a remarkable acknowledgment that no other nuclear power has come close to disclosing about its own secrets, and it is a piece of history that should be remembered more often than the tale of the football star and the mismatched glove.

Source:

Eileen Welsome. The Plutonium Files. Dell Publishing. 1999.

2012/10/15

The Plutonium Files



Life is short and the Art long; 
the occasion fleeting,
experience fallacious,
and judgment difficult.
-Hippocrates




One of the more disturbing things about the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe is the news that unit three contained MOX fuel and that the explosion of this reactor must have released a large volume of plutonium that circled the globe. One naturally wonders about the hazards, but this leads into the quagmire of all the varied interpretations of what happened to all life forms on earth with the advent of the nuclear age. To learn anything, one has to go back to the lessons learned from the era of atmospheric weapons testing that lasted from 1945 until the ratification of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963. France and China didn’t sign it and continued atmospheric testing until 1974 and 1980, respectively, but the worst was over by the time America and the USSR agreed that their mad game had to stop.

Plutonium Boy - The kids' nuclear mascot created by the Japanese nuclear
industry's PR machine. MIA since March 2011.

It is impossible to know how badly fallout has affected living things, but Arjun Makhijani (President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Takoma Park, Maryland) uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cancer risk coefficients to estimate that between 200,000 to 500,000 cancer cases have been caused by global fallout. He adds, however,

No sound global estimate of cancer incidence is possible because no study comparable to the 1997 U.S. National Cancer Institute study has been carried out on a global scale. Indeed, even the thyroid cancer risk in Canada due to testing in Nevada has not been evaluated, although it is apparent from the National Cancer Institute study as well as the similar dietary patterns between Canada and the United States that people in several parts of Canada would have been significantly affected.

Makhijani highlights the significance of the nuclear secrets that are still well kept. America subjected hundreds of thousands of its own citizens to nuclear experiments and dangers, but the truth did eventually come out in the 1990s. Makhijani reminds readers,

… hundreds of thousands of people have been similarly affected in other nuclear-weapon states. The main difference between them and the United States has been that the United States has been more open and hence has, under public pressure, acknowledged a wider scope and depth of harm, although that task is still far from done. India has strict secrecy laws surrounding its nuclear weapons activities, much like France and the United Kingdom. The least is known about China, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.

An excellent way to learn what America, and probably other nuclear states, did to its own citizens in the pursuit of nuclear weapons is to read Eileen Welsome’s The Plutonium Files. Several reviews and summaries can be found on Amazon, so rather than repeat this work, I cite one of them here:

A review on Amazon.com attributed to The Inside Flap:

In a Massachusetts school, seventy-three disabled children were spoon fed radioactive isotopes along with their morning oatmeal....In an upstate New York hospital, an eighteen-year-old woman, believing she was being treated for a pituitary disorder, was injected with plutonium by Manhattan Project doctors....At a Tennessee prenatal clinic, 829 pregnant women were served "vitamin cocktails"--in truth, drinks containing radioactive iron--as part of their prenatal treatment....
In 1945, the seismic power of atomic energy was already well known to researchers, but the effects of radiation on human beings were not. Fearful that plutonium would cause a cancer epidemic among workers, Manhattan Project doctors embarked on a human experiment that was as chilling as it was closely guarded: the systematic injection of unsuspecting Americans with radioactive plutonium. In this shocking exposé, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Eileen Welsome reveals the unspeakable scientific trials that reduced thousands of American men, women, and even children to nameless specimens with silvery radioactive metal circulating in their veins. Spanning the 1930s to the 1990s, filled with hundreds of newly declassified documents and firsthand interviews, The Plutonium Files traces the behind-the-scenes story of an extraordinary fifty-year cover-up. It illuminates a shadowy chapter in this country's history and gives eloquent voice to the men and women who paid for our atomic energy discoveries with their health--and sometimes their lives.

That summary says enough, but below I mention a few memorable aspects of the book.
If the world had never got a chance to see the declassified documents, we might have had a sense that something icky was going on if we came across government studies with titles like this (cited in The Plutonium Files):

K. Scott and J.G. Hamilton. A Comparison of the Metabolism of Plutonium (Pu-238) in Man and the Rat. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and Technical Information. Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 1946.

In other cases, single words appearing in the cited documents highlight how much the doctors involved subtly dehumanized their patients. They were often insistent on moving beyond animal testing and knowing how plutonium affects “the human” as opposed to “the beagle.” One document described the desired type of patient as the desired type of “material” that should preferably be “moribund.” It is notable that these doctors were not just going along with the acceptable norms of their time. The Nazi war crimes trials were current events, and government agencies had adopted ethics codes for research. The plutonium researchers knew they were acting against professional ethics. One of the doctors wrote of the need to keep “dogooders” out of the way. So this history does not illustrate how much we have progressed. It illustrates how much people anytime, anywhere can regress.
In one instance, Eileen Welsome failed to comment on another bit of language, this time on the irony of the name Hanford Jang, one of the unwitting experimental subjects who was injected with radioactive americium. He was a teenage Chinese immigrant suffering from bone cancer, and patients like him were chosen because they were both still physiologically normal in many ways but sure to die in a short time anyway. Chinese parents immigrating to the West often choose to anglicize their children’s names with posh sounding names like “Bentley.”  The name “Hanford,” likewise, does have a noble ring to it, but in this case, Hanford’s poison was likely made at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State.
The most bizarre segment of the book describes the work of a Dr. Carl Heller who spent several years doing research on male prisoners in Oregon. All of the government sponsored radiation experimenters wanted to find the “holy grail” of radiation research, which was to discover a biological dosimeter – a biological marker that would determine how much radiation an individual had been exposed to. After subjecting testicles of “the human” to various forms of radiation (internal, gamma, x-ray and even neutrons), Dr. Heller confidently announced to colleagues that he could tell from a biopsied testicle exactly how much radiation a man had been exposed to. His peers seemed to agree that he had found the holy grail, but there were, admittedly, practical obstacles to scaling this painful biopsy up to the kind of testing that would be needed on the nuclear battlefield or after a nuclear emergency. And there was no biological dosimeter, alas, for “the human female” or “the human fetus.”
Finally, this slice of nuclear history must strike everyone as personally relevant. We all have to wonder about the effects of chemicals and radiation on our families. These days, many people note that people around them are dying at an age younger than the age their parents and grandparents died. My father was treated for acne in the 1940s with x-rays. He was wearing full dentures before his 40th birthday, and had several skin lesions removed from his face in later years. It seems that this treatment, like the plutonium injections and total body irradiation described by Welsome, was another radiological experiment of the era done by eager doctors whose pet research interests blinded them to the fact the risks were real and the benefits unlikely.
   My three siblings and I were born between 1957 and 1968, so I wonder about how much fallout got into my parents and us by the time they had their children. I was born with a heart murmur that still throws off cardiograms and makes me jump through extra hoops to get life insurance, but that is a small thing to complain about. Besides, I was the lucky one conceived and born during the testing moratorium that lasted from late 1958 to September 1961. In any case, every generation born since WWII has been affected by the radiological and chemical pollution of the modern age. Welsome makes this point in a segment of her book about the US military pilots who were ordered to fly through mushroom clouds and gather samples of fallout:

The cloud samplers continued to swoop in and out of the mushroom clouds until 1962. Like the ground troops, many of the pilots developed cancer or other diseases that they feel were caused by their radiation exposure. Langdon Harrison, who contracted prostate and bladder cancer, believes wholeheartedly that he received more than the 8.5 roentgens [.085 Sieverts] listed on his official reports. He said often he was ordered to circle in the dirty-looking clouds for up to fifteen minutes while trying to fill his tanks with radioactive gases. All the while he watched as the numbers on his radiation monitors climbed.
Harrison said he would never have volunteered for the sampling missions he had had been informed of the risks. “The whole thing was fraught with peril and danger and they knew it was, and this I resent quite readily,” he told one interviewer. “There isn’t anybody in the United States who isn’t a downwinder, either. When we followed the clouds, we went all over the United States from east to west and covering a broad spectrum of Mexico and Canada. Where are you going to draw the line? Everyone is a downwinder. It circles the earth, round and round, what comes around goes around.” (p. 284)

Sources:

D.E.H Cleveland and A.H. Pirie. "The Treatment of Chronic Acne by X-Ray." Canadian Medical Association Journal. November 1938 November; 39(5): 499–500. 

Lawrence E. Lamb. "X-Ray No Acne Cure." The Victoria Advocate. Victoria, Texas. June 9, 1977.

Arjun Makhijani. A Readiness to Harm: The Health Effects of Nuclear Weapons Complexes. Arms Control Association. August 29, 2008.

 

S. Preston-Martin. "Prior X-ray Therapy for Acne Related to Tumors of the Parotid Gland." Archives of Dermatology. July 1989;125(7):921-4.


Steven Simon, André Bouville, and Charles Land. “Prior Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Tests and Cancer Risks.” American Scientist. January-February 2006, Volume 94, Number 1. Page 48.DOI: 10.1511/2006.1.48.

Eileen Welsome. The Plutonium Files. Dell Publishing. 1999.


2012/10/07

Pressure and Containment


The title Pressure and Containment applies to two physical elements of nuclear reactor design, but it also applies to another essential aspect of the nuclear industry: its need to contain the abstract, ever-increasing, problematic pressure of accumulating information that threatens to leak out. Over the past year I have speculated about what people in the global nuclear industry must be thinking of the Fukushima catastrophe. The IEAE, professional organizations and government agencies form tight ranks and carefully control the message that gets out to the public. Official meetings and conferences are closed to the mass media, and most staff are barred from speaking publicly
From the outside it looks like it is all diplomatic language and soothing words of mutual respect, support and encouragement, but now one has to wonder why more anger and resentment would not break through the normally calm surface. After all, TEPCO and the Japanese nuclear village have done tremendous financial harm to the nuclear industry, which may have entered its period of decline. Nuclear engineers who belong to organizations with excellent safety records have good reason to be angry, and to breathe a sigh of relief when they hear talk of a phase out of nuclear power in Japan. They have to admit, as readily as many anti-nuke people, that Japan is just too seismically risky for nuclear power and it has a record of incorrigibly flawed management of nuclear safety. Even from the perspective of pro-nuclear advocates, it would be better if Japan got out of the game and left it to organizations that have a better record of handling the dangers.
It is difficult for an outsider to find evidence of such discord within the nuclear profession, but one good place to look is in the industry trade magazines. Volume 53, Issue 35 of Nucleonics Week (August 2012) contained a report on the Convention on Nuclear Safety meeting that was held in Vienna in late August. The report described a description of a rare and welcome undiplomatic debate occurring among nuclear professionals. One could argue that the information in such trade journals should be available to the public, and it is, in fact, but it comes with the least expensive payment option being an annual subscription of US$2,695 (basic web and email). I came across this article via forwarded email, and I’m posting it here with the defense that it is fair use because of its import to public policy debate within democratic societies.
The article discusses primarily comments by Rosenergoatom deputy director general Vladimir Asmolov. He pointed out that the extraordinary meeting of CNS parties was supposed to focus on why Fukushima happened, not on the known details of what happened. He openly criticized a presentation by Shinichi Kuroki, deputy director general of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency as being too focused on what is already established knowledge. Nucleonics Week reported that Asmolov claimed Kuroki’s report, “shed little light on why Fukushima owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. had failed to apply IAEA safety principles like sufficient redundance [sic - redundancy] in safety trains and why regulators had not enforced stricter norms.”
Asmolov explained further, “weaknesses in the Japanese system had been identified by several missions from the IAEA and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), over the past years, but the Japanese did not act on them.” Asmolov cited “criticism about the regulatory agency being within the industry ministry, the lack of technical competence in NISA, and failure by TEPCO to make key safety-related backfits even after the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents.
It was Asmolov’s assessment that TEPCO could have protected the Fukushima Daiichi plant if it had applied knowledge that was available before the accident. Putting it mildly, Asmolov said that TEPCO was “isolated from scientific support.” 
I think a dispossessed farmer in Fukushima would express these criticisms with much more anger and rage, but by the standards of nuclear industry peer pressure, Asmolov might have delivered a shocking effrontery when he said there was nothing new in the report by Kuroki, “whom he criticized for giving numbers with too great precision - for example, measurement of water levels in the spent fuel pool of Fukushima I-4 - but sidestepping an analysis of the mindset that allowed regulatory approval of extended operation for the oldest Fukushima unit without new safety requirements.”
Asmolov is also president of The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and a member of the International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG), the Russian nuclear utility's chief technical expert and a professor at Moscow Technical University. It would be interesting to know what he has to say about other shocking lapses such as the South Korean utility that, in the post-Fukushima world, covered up - until it was caught - a twelve-minute station blackout at the Gori 1 Nuclear Power Plant in Busan on February 9, 2012. For that matter, in how many other countries are operators failing to apply IAEA safety principles, and where else are regulators failing to enforce measures against known low probability-high impact events? Who else is "isolated from scientific support"?

source article:

CNS meeting not focused on key Fukushima issues: Asmolov
Staff
991 words
30 August 2012
Nucleonics Week
NUC
ISSN: 0048-105X, Volume 53, Issue 35
English
(c) 2012 McGraw-Hill, Inc.

The world nuclear safety community lost an opportunity to focus on the most important lessons from the Fukushima accident at a meeting in Vienna this week, Rosenergoatom deputy director general Vladimir Asmolov said as the meeting of parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety entered its third day August 29.
Asmolov said that the "extraordinary" meeting of CNS parties was supposed to shed light not primarily on what happened at Fukushima in March 2011 - which has been presented in many other forums over the past months - but why it happened, so that lessons could be drawn for the global nuclear safety regime.
But a presentation about Fukushima at the opening session August 27 by Shinichi Kuroki, deputy director general of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, shed little light on why Fukushima owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. had failed to apply IAEA safety principles like sufficient redundance in safety trains and why regulators had not enforced stricter norms, Asmolov said.
Asmolov said that the weaknesses in the Japanese system had been identified by several missions from the IAEA and the World Association of Nuclear Operators WANO, over the past years, but the Japanese did not act on them. He cited criticism about the regulatory agency being within the industry ministry, the lack of technical competence in NISA, and failure by Tepco to make key safety-related backfits even after the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents.
Asmolov is president of WANO and a member of the International Nuclear Safety Group, Insag. He is also the Russian nuclear utility's chief technical expert and a professor at Moscow Technical University.
Asmolov said that if Tepco had properly assessed the consequences of a total loss of power, as happened on March 11, 2011, it would have realized that "the design [of the Fukushima units] is not good."
"The knowledge exists" about how to protect a plant in such circumstances, he said, but the Japanese operator was "isolated from scientific support."
Asmolov said there was nothing new in the report by Kuroki, whom he criticized for giving numbers with too great precision - for example, measurement of water levels in the spent fuel pool of Fukushima I-4 - but sidestepping an analysis of the mindset that allowed regulatory approval of extended operation for the oldest Fukushima unit without new safety requirements.
Kuroki's presentation did cover investigations of the cause of the accident, the taking of immediate safety measures at Fukushima and other reactor sites, and considerations of further steps, such as seismic safety re-evaluation for all sites. He outlined the action plan of nuclear utilities, designed to obtain approval for restart of units that were shut for inspections after the accident. Only two of 50 units in Japan have been allowed to restart so far.
Kuroki said that the Japanese government "needs to reconstruct [the] nuclear safety organization and regulation rapidly, so as to prevent [a] severe accident" and recover public trust in regulators and operators, which he said was "completely lost" because of Fukushima. Nominations of five people as Nuclear Regulatory Agency commissioners are in the approval process in the Diet, Japan's parliament.
Fukushima led to a nuclear regulatory reform act that creates a nuclear regulatory commission independent of the industry ministry and integrates NISA and other government offices dealing with radiation protection into the staff of the new NRA.
Kuroki said issues like improving safety culture, as well as new post-Fukushima regulations covering 30 safety issues identified after Fukushima, will be addressed by the new agency once it is functioning.
But Kuroki offered little information to the 600-plus participants in the Vienna meeting about nuclear safety philosophy and the international safety regime going forward, Asmolov said. He contrasted that with the recent expert report done for the Japanese Diet which drew some key conclusions about safety culture and accountability in Japan's nuclear community.
Asmolov said that discussions in a working group during the CNS meeting on international cooperation, which he chaired, had shown that "all the reasons [for Fukushima] were clear before the accident, but the [safety] convention and other mechanisms [like peer review missions]" could not prevent the accident.
He said Russia was seeking agreement from the CNS parties to establish a special high-level group to work out a "common proposal" for the global nuclear safety regime, evaluating where the nuclear community went wrong and how it can use "experience and knowledge" to improve the "fundamentals" of nuclear safety, like adequate design.
Asmolov said he sought agreement on "internationally coordinated research and development" to tackle "weak points" of reactor safety like hydrogen risks in containment or molten core interaction with water. A "common network" should also be established to link the results of all peer review missions and safety services - for example between the IAEA and WANO - and set "coordinated objectives" for those missions, he said.
The IAEA and WANO announced earlier this year an agreement to work more closely together.
Separately, Tero Varjoranta, director general of the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Institute, said in an interview in Vienna August 29 that experts looking at design issues during the CNS meeting had agreed on areas that need to be addressed in light of Fukushima.
He said there is agreement on measures needed, but that different countries have different timelines to implement them.
He gave no specific examples; the contents of the report from the working group on design issues, which Varjoranta chaired, are confidential.
But Varjoranta, who also chairs the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group, said he had delivered two messages to the group. First, he said, one should "never waste an opportunity" to learn lessons. But second, one should take the time needed to understand precisely what changes are needed rather than rush to make backfits without sufficient analysis.
"Haste makes waste," the Finnish regulator said.